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Winter weather brings increased risk of carbon monoxide poisoning

As the cold starts to move in, people use their stoves, furnaces and gas appliances more often. This increases the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Paramedic specialist Jodi Butterman holds up a portable carbon monoxide monitor
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​Paramedic specialist Jodi Butterman holds up a portable carbon monoxide monitor, as used by BCEHS paramedics.

Look out for the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning, including headaches, dizziness, nausea and vomiting, says BCEHS paramedic practice leader Leon Baranowski. Easily confused with the flu, these symptoms can worsen and lead to a loss of consciousness and even death.

A carbon monoxide detector in your home will alert you if carbon monoxide levels rise. If the alarm goes off, get yourself and your family members out quickly, and call 9-1-1, says Baranowski.

Since 2017, all B.C. paramedics have carried carbon monoxide monitors. In the past week the monitors have alerted paramedics to at least two incidences of carbon monoxide leaks, enabling them to act quickly and save lives.

“Any time we are exposed to carbon monoxide, this monitor will alarm and will give us the reading of how much carbon monoxide is in the atmosphere,” says BCEHS paramedic specialist Jodi Butterman.

“They’re critically important. It is very important that people put them in their houses, buildings and offices. Carbon monoxide is something you can’t see or smell, so the only way you can detect it is through an alert system.”
BC Ambulance Service; BCEHS; public safety; carbon monoxide
 
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